Friday assorted links

by on March 17, 2017 at 11:24 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Siberian barter markets in everything if only they had stabilized nominal gdp.  It might mean less sex.

2. Spatial competition and the Great Divergence.

3. Steve Keen turns to crowdfunding to pay his salary.

4. Noah Smith responds on empiricism and humility.  Many good points, though I think who is “ideological” is not as simple as this seems to indicate.  Even if no one person acts or feels like an ideologue, a system that is not asking all the right questions is in fact highly ideological.  When was the last time there was a significant study of child satisfaction with school vouchers?  How much attention is given to the economics of animal welfare?  And so on.

5. The federal agencies and programs Trump wants to eliminate.

6. 49:45 for my riff on deathbed regrets.

7. Me on Facebook Live, Monday 7 p.m., EST.  Here is the Facebook event page.

1 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 11:32 am

When was the last time there was a significant study of child satisfaction with school vouchers?

lol. Tyler thinks we are cats and he is flashing the laser pointer.

2 Lasercat March 17, 2017 at 11:44 am

I’ve often thought parents can be amazingly ignorant of their kids’ classroom experiences. Perhaps it is a kind of willful compartmentalization of what to attend to, and trusting the adults of the school more than their own children. Which suggests — what would happen if regular classrooms were randomly and somewhat surreptitiously live-streamed fairly often? Anyway, it probably wouldn’t hurt to get the kids input on vouchers and might help a lot.

3 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 11:56 am

Obviously parent and child satisfaction factors into Total Return, but I’d think that the long cumulative benefits to parent, child, and society cluster around Value Added.

4 3rdMoment March 17, 2017 at 11:56 am

Having a child in early elementary school, and one about to start, I’ve become increasingly skeptical about the whole enterprise of sending kids to these little prisons for 7 hours a day. Many other parents share my concerns, especially with bright kids who are well above grade level. Most of our kids aren’t really challenged or engaged most of the time, and it’s just a big exercise in keeping your head down and following the rules. Depressing.

(I should add that I’m not blaming the teachers at all. The classes are large and it’s just an impossible situation.)

5 Thiago Ribeiro March 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Yet, we are told over and over that classroom sizes have nothing to do with anything else. I favor doing whatever is necessary to halve the classroom sizes.

6 The Anti-Gnostic March 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Large classes have nothing to do with it, other than the fact that 5% of the students will be disruptive resource sinks. The problem you’re talking about would be just as pronounced with four to six students a class following a teacher or teachers around all day.

“Education” should be completely re-thought, i.e., the entire edifice torn down and the earth salted.

And you’re just at the start of the sausage factory. Probably a third of students should leave school by age 14. Another third should leave at age 16. The final third can study advanced math and sciences/arts and letters to age 18, after which the State should have zero role in the process other than to hear lawsuits for breach of contract.

7 Troll me March 19, 2017 at 5:23 am

I’ve taught classes of 25 and 75.

If you think large classes have nothing to do with anything, you simply don’t have a clue. And that’s all you have expressed.

8 Joe In Morgantown March 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm

The answer is one of: private school, home school or charter school.

9 Hazel Meade March 17, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Grade school is basically day care with a faint pretense at education.

10 Careless March 17, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Part off one of my daughter’s first kindergarten homework assignments at the local public school

11 Hua Wei March 17, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Do you need help with her homework?

12 Careless March 17, 2017 at 9:07 pm

Just countering Hazel’s typical silliness. Her kids might go to a bullshit school. Not everyone’s do.

13 BandraIsBetter March 17, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Yes, yes, an impossible situation. Heaven forbid we hire and properly compensate enough qualified people to teach our children something useful.

14 BandraIsBetter March 17, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Old White Man #1: We couldn’t possibly levy a fee of some sort? What would we call that?
Old White Man #2: Impossible, I tell you. The school budget is carved into a granite slab in the city square.
Old White Man #1: I can’t think of anything on hand, but the teachers should do something about these class sizes or children will suffer…
Old White Man #2: But the classes have always been so large, and resources so limited…whatever would they do with all that additional free time? Think?!
Old White Man #1: You’re right, it just wouldn’t be a justifiable expenditure.

15 Dick the Butcher March 17, 2017 at 7:10 pm

We put through college and grad school three sons. All three went to public schools through eighth grade and we were able to get them (paid review courses for entrance exams) into an outstanding Catholic high school. Observations: parents need to work with their pupils to ensure they are doing their work and excelling. Number two observation: too early on parents and teachers give up on children’s educations and stop pushing for excellence. In large families that may have happened with the fourth and so forth children. Approaching junior high, do whatever you have to do to get your child in AP classes. And. monitor their work/progress.

Regarding “qualified people to teach” that is so racist. NYC recently dropped the literacy tests for teachers because minorities weren’t passing – disparate impacts/the effects test – settled civil rights law. Literacy is discrimination.

16 The Other Jim March 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

>what would happen if regular classrooms were randomly and somewhat surreptitiously live-streamed fairly often?

Oooh, ooh! I know this one! Call on me!

The answer is: you would get a nationwide Teachers Union strike so massive that school would not resume for a few years, and you would get a Teachers Union lawsuit so massive that most cities and towns would go bankrupt. Then, teacher salaries would quintuple.

17 Hazel Meade March 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Maybe we should ask them to wear body cams instead.

18 Anonale March 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Could you really blame them? The white collar workers in corporate America are too compliant to unionize, they all want that promotion and rocking the boat ain’t the way to get it. The pink collar workers, meanwhile, are simply too dumb to organize, the system has done well to filter any potential agitators safely into the middle class. And then they see the government workers getting such sweet deals with their unions and say “that ain’t fair.” People complain mostly about cops and teachers, but you’ll notice that most of those who complain about the unions of one are fine with the other. They elect politicians who promise to crack down on them, but they never can, because they teachers and cops are not replacable. I don’t have a problem with it. You want what they have, organize and try to get it, or else be comfortable, be complacent, and hope you get that promotion.

19 Hazel Meade March 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm

I’d be fine with that if they weren’t getting it on my dime.

20 Thiago Ribeiro March 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Who cares about their satisfaction? We are not talking about amusement parks or playgrounds, we are talking about schools!

21 albatross March 18, 2017 at 11:21 pm

If the kid is miserable at school, that’s a problem worth solving. Probably there’s not all that much difference in life outcomes between sending your kid to a 50th %ile school vs a 90th %ile school–they’ll maybe pick up better study habits a little earlier and get through a couple more AP classes, but those effects probably wash out by adulthood. But having your kid spend three or four years miserable and getting bullied all the time is rotten even if it doesn’t lower his income at age 30.

22 Troll me March 19, 2017 at 5:29 am

Kids learn better if they want to be there.

23 pyroseed13 March 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

I find it sort of amazing that Noah does not actually believe that he is susceptible to Tyler’s basic point: That people form their own judgments about social systems and then view empirical debates primarily through those lenses. Read any Noah post on immigration, and it’s pretty clear that is what’s going on there.

24 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

Empiricism is an aspirational goal and good. Everyone does better when they think they are trying.

25 Anon7 March 17, 2017 at 11:49 pm

What is the empirical evidence in support of the claim that everyone does better when they think that they are trying?

26 Anonymous March 18, 2017 at 9:33 am

That is very good.

27 Artimus March 17, 2017 at 11:44 am

I was wondering how long it would take for the Siberian sex barter story to make it to Marginal Revolution.

28 Gerber Baby March 17, 2017 at 11:50 am

1. I call fake news.

29 The Other Jim March 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

You can certainly call Fake Pictures.

No chance in hell that girl is a typical Siberian, and the city photo was obviously taken during the warm season (which lasts about 45 minutes on August 2).

30 Ray Lopez March 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

From the comments she’s a Sydney model, which does look a bit plausible if you Google search her name, though Lake Baikal region does have a lot of former Soviet republican Asians in it also.

31 Artimus March 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm

All the former Soviet ‘stans are filled with good looking eurasian women. Surprised you haven’t made it over there Ray.

32 Miguel Madeira March 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Buryatia is supposed to be a mongol autonomous republic.

33 ChrisA March 18, 2017 at 6:47 am

The weather in southern Siberia can be surprisingly nice for a good chunk (4 to 5 months) of the year, long sunny temperate days. Lake Baikal is outstandingly beautiful in the summer. Even in the winter it tends to be cold but sunny and blue sky. Source – go there often for work reasons.

34 ChrisA March 18, 2017 at 6:48 am

Oh, and there are a lot of quite stunning women.

35 Artimus March 18, 2017 at 7:28 am

Thanks for the information. But I must ask. Did you barter for any services?

36 prior_test2 March 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

‘a system that is not asking all the right questions is in fact highly ideological’

The humility just drips from an observation formulated in this fashion.

37 MikeW March 17, 2017 at 12:11 pm

5. Some of those Trump-targeted agencies reek of pork-barrel politics and can easily get the boot. The “Denali Commission – Provides economic assistance in Alaska”? And what the heck is the “United States Institute of Peace”?

But the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? Their budget is, what, one dollar per capita per year. I doubt many Americans object to paying a buck a year to have their cooking shows, baby-sitting kiddie programs and dry documentaries.

38 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

There are some on the list I like more than others, but I wonder what is really going on. Will GOP Congressmen keep a tally of angry phone calls and cut everything not shouted for? Or will they gamble that they can make people forget the shouting by 2018, 2020, …

39 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Oh, the liberals are making much hay over the fact that this or that program costs less than Melania’s maintenance in New York, or Trump’s sojourns to Florida. Poor optics for the “we much cut to the bone” campaign.

40 Thiago Ribeiro March 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Yet, as Mr. Romney pointed out, are those things worth asking China money?

41 Gerber Baby March 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm

” I doubt many Americans object to paying a buck a year to have their cooking shows, baby-sitting kiddie programs and dry documentaries.”

Then, for the thousandth time, they can pay for that themselves, voluntarily.

42 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Can we do that for “should Trump golf this weekend?” That would be fun.

43 Anonale March 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Must have been hard waiting 8 years for the chance to use that one.

44 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm

I think most Presidents golf, but golf closer, cheaper. Various sources quote $3 million in public expense per Florida trip.

45 BandraIsBetter March 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm

For the thousandth time, surely you’ve heard of the commons dilemma. Or would you like me to tear up the road leading to your house so that you can build your own, voluntarily?

46 The Anti-Gnostic March 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

But the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? Their budget is, what, one dollar per capita per year. I doubt many Americans object to paying a buck a year to have their cooking shows, baby-sitting kiddie programs and dry documentaries.

In which event Americans can pay a dollar a year to the private producer of their choice if they want. Or the producers can lobby for donations from billionaires. It would give people like Soros and Gates something to do with their money other than pay their relatives and their relatives’ friends to do busy-work at “non-profit” foundations.

47 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm

You should look up “public good” and “positive externalities.” Fun stuff.

48 msgkings March 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm

To the spectrum-y folks here, nothing good is public, and vice versa.

49 The Anti-Gnostic March 17, 2017 at 1:45 pm

There’s an accepted definition of public good. “Clean air” and “safe streets” qualify. Garrison Keillor’s Cavalcade Of Whimsy does not.

50 Troll me March 19, 2017 at 5:32 am

If my enjoyment of the “public good” does not reduce your access to it, then it is a “public good”.

It may be more of a “public good” than even clean air, from a certain mathematical perspective.

51 The Anti-Gnostic March 17, 2017 at 1:35 pm

You can pay for your own positive externalities, and even them to your individual needs. Why should poor people be made to pay for a show on how to cook gourmet French cuisine? Why should anybody be made to pay for Charlie Rose?

None of those items are “public goods.” The term doesn’t mean what you think it does.

52 BandraIsBetter March 17, 2017 at 3:49 pm

The poor people aren’t paying for it. But literally everyone can use it. CPB is basically the opposite of the tragedy of the commons. Call it the serendipity of the society – rich people pay a minuscule amount of money and many people benefit substantially.

Finally and forcefully, Prairie Home Companion and Splendid Table aren’t the only thing CPB does, and to use such simple examples to deny that CPB is a widely used and appreciated public service is intellectually shameful.

53 Mike W March 17, 2017 at 1:39 pm

How does PBS meet the definition of a public good?

54 A Definite Beta Guy March 17, 2017 at 5:24 pm

I like it, and I don’t want to pay the full cost, so it’s a public good. Also my car is a public good.

55 Anonale March 17, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Indeed, all all need to do is cite the word “externality,”(Big Word!) no need for actual logic or evidence.

56 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm

The best case for PBS is the part that overlaps public education. There are well known arguments for public goods and positive externalities there.

I have to admit less so for cooking shows.

57 Thomas March 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Why should every American be forced to pay for the production of biased media? Let the progressives pay for NPR.

58 BandraIsBetter March 17, 2017 at 3:52 pm

History and reality have a progressive bias. NPR reports on that reality. Not everything is substantially and intentionally slanted, but there’s no denying that NPR and PBS hire rational people who open books on occasion.

59 DBW March 17, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Oh, yes–given their inherent irrationality, no fiscal or social conservative EVER read a book.

60 Thomas March 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm

NPR is intensely biased, your rsponse is a verbose ‘nuh-uh!’, and your condescension sounds like an NPR host talking about poor people or black people.

61 Anonymous March 17, 2017 at 5:03 pm
62 Alain March 17, 2017 at 9:03 pm

No more funding, plus investigate whatever is left continually.

63 Thomas March 18, 2017 at 1:52 am

Lefy wing media dependent on government pork: “People who propose cutting our welfare are bad! Rich white liberals shouldn’t have to pay for their own media!”

64 albatross March 18, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Some of them may be useless, but remember Chesterton’s fence! You should understand what it does and why it was created before you defund it!

65 Ray Lopez March 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm

#3 – Steve Keen is a fine alternative economics public thinker, I’ve read his books and they are pretty good albeit a bit of handwaving in them. He is somewhat close to what I believe in, in that economics is nonlinear and at best (if that) you can perhaps call the “endpoints” or “boundary conditions” of the envelope (and that’s stretching it) but otherwise the data just jumps around in a Markov chain manner, with a slight upward bias over time.

66 Four March 17, 2017 at 6:00 pm

A pseudointellectual like Keen is perfect reading for a non-intellectual like you, Ray.

67 mulp March 17, 2017 at 6:09 pm

But he is clearly disconnected from reality:

“He is initially hoping to raise $10,000 (£8,232) a month, which he says would allow him to work full time on the third edition of his book, Debunking Economics, plus a series of papers, and to continue producing videos for his YouTube channel, which has more than 10,000 subscribers.”

I will work full time on a revision to his book for a year for $20,000, $100,000 less. And I will improve the lives of his 10,000 subscribers by freeing up their time to spend talking with real people in person, ideally, talking with real people, like bus drivers, wait staff, cleaners, etc, about their personal finances. In particular whether they would pay $1 a month with 10,000 others to a book writer to live on $10,000 a month so he can sell a revised book for $20 a copy for your smart phone because putting the words you are paying for on paper costs an extra $20.

68 Tom Davies March 19, 2017 at 9:50 am

I thought Steve Keen had already become rich by selling at the top of the Australian property market?

69 Hazel Meade March 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm

#1. This is probably a viral marketing scam designed to sell Russian porn.

70 Gerber Baby March 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm

More likely it’s just a scam to get guys to sign up on that website.

71 Art Deco March 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Nope. I blow BBC in exchange for help with my heater.

72 B. Reynolds March 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm

#6 – Did TC give KMW all the questions to ask in advance? That was the best TC interview that I can remember hearing.

The deathbed point is a brilliant perspective. I’m surprised I’ve never heard it or considered it before.

Even though my middle aged self wants to give a swift kick my 20-25 year old self, who cares about the deathbed me? After all, I’m almost dead.

73 athEIst March 17, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Nine men responded offering their services.
No doubt it was electrifying.

74 rayward March 17, 2017 at 4:27 pm

4. It’s no surprise that we usually find what we are looking for. I recall the study which found a significant increase in employment following termination of extended unemployment benefits and concluded that the latter was the cause of the former. The three authors of the study failed to mention that there was a spike, a very large spike, in job openings following termination of unemployment benefits, even though the data was right there at BLS for anyone who chose to look. That a single author might not look at the job openings data is understandable, but three (there were three authors of the study). No, I’m not suggesting they mislead anyone, not anyone other than themselves. They found what they were looking for.

75 BC March 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm

5) National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities: beyond the usual arguments over whether working class taxes should subsidize elites’ pastimes, even from the perspective of advancing the Arts, why would we promulgate government art, like that sponsored by the NEA, over independent art, like that sponsored by non-government foundations, philanthropists, and the arts patrons themselves? The NEA cannot sponsor all art equally and, thus, inherently selects some art over others. Whether that selection results in funding crucifixes in urine [] or prohibits such funding [], that selection process reflects the political criteria of government. Traditionally, we would count artists among the mavericks of society. Can there be any stronger symbol of the Complacent Class then self-described supporters of the Arts aligning themselves with Government Establishment art over independent art?

LIHEAP: I’ve often wondered why private industry doesn’t borrow a few pages from higher education’s marketing/PR playbook. First, higher ed lobbies for subsidies nominally for students (“financial aid”), rather than for themselves. But, of course, there is no economic distinction between a tuition subsidy given to a student, who then pays the money to a college, and a subsidy given directly to the college. By lobbying for financial aid “for students”, higher ed is somehow able to deny self-interestedness. Second, financial aid is awarded based on “need”. That allows colleges to access students’ personal financial information to exploit it for maximum price-discrimination. Here again, there is no economic distinction between need-based financial “aid” and price-gouging people by charging them the maximum amount that they can afford, an amount that colleges can determine mainly by getting access to students’ financial information.

So, rather than lobby for direct subsidies to themselves, Big Energy for example would be better served by establishing a non-profit to “help” its low income customers afford energy. (“Everyone deserves equal access to energy.”) Establishing that non-profit would seem selfless, even though it would actually create a conduit through which Big Energy could receive hidden subsidies from government and private donors. The means testing would also allow for price discrimination. I often wondered why Big Energy didn’t do something like that. Now, I see that they have. It’s called LIHEAP.

I also wonder why Big Pharma and Big Medicine don’t do something similar: establish a non-profit or government program for subsidizing prescription drugs and other healthcare. Oh, wait…

76 Harun March 18, 2017 at 2:44 am

Utilities actually do offer discounts to poor people.

77 Luis Pedro Coelho March 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Wrt #4: a lot of ideology is in the pre-empirical decision of which side has the burden of proof.

To take the running example: finding no differences in student performance between school choice systems and assigned schooling systems is seen as evidence against school choice! This assigns negative value to choice (I actually think that some liberals assign a sanctity value to public schools in the Haidt sense: only strong empirical evidence against it is acceptable).

If the default was choice, there would be no empirical case for assigned schooling. It’s more expensive, parents dislike it, and it has little effect on student performance (with some hints that it slightly harms minority students).

78 Todd Kreider March 17, 2017 at 10:08 pm

So in the latest interview, Tyler is now telling us how great the 80s were despite productivity being low that decade. This is the weak point of Cowen — he makes stuff up as he goes along.

Nobody interviewing him knows when productivity levels were high or low so never question what he says.

79 ChrisA March 18, 2017 at 6:53 am

The arguments against school choice boil down to; “Rich people get to decide on what school they send their kids to, but poor people can’t be trusted”. Personally I am against such paternalistic approaches, but I am not surprised that some many left wingers are in this camp, left wing “philosophy” is all about bossy people trying to impose their values on other people.

80 Barkley Rosser March 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm

I think we can do without some of the agencies that are on the cut list, but, really, combining this with the DOD increase with the Navy apparently not asking for the ships Trump wants and some other things like that, not to mention the ridiculous wall between US and Mexico, really puts a sour aspect on this. I mean really, Big Bird goes so we can have a wall that will not do what it is supposed to do but whose building will please a lot of hysterical racists? Gag.

81 MPL March 26, 2017 at 9:53 pm

How much attention is given to the economics of animal welfare?

Thanks for bringing up the brutal truth right here, seems to be few and far between these days. Seems a lot of societal problems are not even being named, let alone addressed.

I think us over at Modern Pet Living will give it a thorough shot one day:

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